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Pair of gold earrings

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: Greek
: Late 4th or 3rd century B.C.
: Gold
: Height: 4.4 cm

Ex-Schaefer collection, South Germany, 1960’s.


These two earrings, which are almost identical but specular, are each composed of a solid gold figurine, decorated with hammered gold sheets for the rendering of the wings and with the himation (cloak) draped on the young women’s shoulders.

At the back of the statuettes, a loop-shaped wire allows the pendants to be fastened to a large, round and three-layered flower; at its center, in the posterior part, the hook designed for insertion into the earlobe is soldered.

The figurine represents a young woman standing in an elegant attitude, with her feet crossed as if she is tracing a dance step. She raises one of her arm that holds a libation vessel (despite the miniature size of the ornaments, one can recognize a rhyton with a horse protome!): she is pouring liquid, certainly wine, in a circular cup edged with granulation, that she holds much lower in her other hand. This gesture is attested in Greek art through many other sculpted or painted representations.

The identification of both figures is not immediate: in spite of the young women’s nudity, the presence of the spread wings likely leads to the Goddess of Victory, Nike for the Greeks. Her attitude, reproduced many times in Classical iconography (feet almost touching the ground, largely spread wings, fabric floating in the wind) indicates that the deity is lightly alighting on the ground or is about to slowly take off.

Such earrings are well documented in women’s tombs of the early Hellenistic period and exist in numerous variations. Besides Nike’s images, one also finds representations of Eros in different poses, of Sirens, of Ganymede and the eagle, etc.


GREIFENHAGEN A., Schmuckarbeiten in Edelmetal, Band I, Fundgruppen, Berlin, 1970, pl.13, 1 p. 33 (from Pangaion, Macedonia); Band II, Einzelfunde, Berlin, 1975, pl. 41, 6, p. 51.

HOFFMAN H. and al., Greek Gold, Jewelry from the Age of Alexander, Boston, 1966, pp. 84-94, pp. 238-239.

MARSHALL F.H., Catalogue of the Jewellery, Greek, Etruscan and Roman in the Department of Antiquities, British Museum, London, 1969, pl. 32.

WILLIAMS D. and al., Greek Gold Jewellery of the Classical World, London, 1994, pp. 66-67, p. 77, p. 170.

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